Question: "I have a William Christenberry print of 5 Cents. I bought it years ago in D.C. at the Tartt Gallery. What is the best method to determine its value?"
Reply: The best method would be to sell it through an auction house that handles a lot of fine art photography and preferably a lot of Christenberry. Whatever you get for it is what it's worth.
Second best—check auction records for any recent sales of the same print. This is a good estimating method but doesn't take into account increasing or decreasing demand. Sometimes actual auction prices depart from such "comps" considerably.
Third best method, ask (or pay for) a competent photo dealer to perform an appraisal. You can find such dealers through AIPAD, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (www.aipad.com). Again, as reports from actual auctions will make clear, an appraisal is an educated guess and is neither a limit nor a guarantee.
Worst method: arrange a private sale to or through a friend, local collector, local museum, or art or antiques dealer, and simply take whatever they see fit to offer you. While any given individual may be perfectly generous, in general these resources really don't have much incentive to pay you any reasonable facsimile of the going price, never mind top dollar.